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Report: Padilla to have Tommy John Surgery

Juan Padilla has elected to udnergo Tommy John surgery, according to the Associated Press. He was a bright spot in the Mest' bullpen last season, but this is hardly a death blow to the Mets' playoff chances. Padilla was one of the luckiest pitchers in baseball last season, posting modest peripherals (13 walks, 17 strikeouts), but somehow only allowing 24 base hits in 36.1 innings. In his 62 career innings prior to 2005 Padilla had allowed 63 hits. In 447.2 career minor league innings he allowed 447 hits. He was not likely going to post a sub-1.50 ERA again, and I suspect that his unimpressive strikeout-to-walk ratio would have resulted in league-average production. Not bad, but far from irreplaceable.

Prediction: With Padilla gone due to injury, Heath Bell makes the ballclub out of spring training and has a solid year out of the pen. Bell was the polar opposite of Padilla last year, posting terrific peripherals (13 walks, 43 strikeouts) but giving up far too many hits: 56 in 46.2 innings. A quick comparison of the two pitchers:

            ERA    FIP    Diff    DER
Bell 5.59 2.90 -2.70 .637
Padilla 1.49 3.31 +1.82 .795

FIP is Fielding Independent Pitching, and gives you an idea of how well the pitcher performed, independent of his fielders. DER is Defense Efficiency Ratio, and it is simply the frequency with which a defense turns batted balls into outs, excluding homeruns. It looks like Padilla received a lot of help from his defense, whereas the glovework behind Bell was a bit lacking. It's certainly possible that Bell's pitches were more "hittable", though it's unlikely that "hittability" alone would account for the stark contrast in these pitchers' FIPs and DERs.